When Wang Zhonglin (Wang Chung-Lin) was a “clever and mischievous” young boy, a missionary named George Davis established the first church in his village. Wang’s family heard the gospel in those days but could not see its relevance to their lives. His father and grandfather were eager for him to add luster to the family name by becoming a scholar, so they sent him to an excellent school to gain a superior education.
Wang was a free-spirited teenager, and the pressure of trying to live up to his family’s expectations proved too much. He asked his father to give him a few coins every day on the pretense that he needed to buy things, but he saved the money up until he had enough to fund an adventure he had been planning for many months. At the tender age of 14, he left school one day, telling his friends that he was going “outside the Great Wall”. He took odd jobs in order to survive, but soon found the daily grind of life less glamorous than he had expected. Still he pressed on, desperate to put as much distance between himself and his home as possible. He travelled for two years, before a guilty conscience thought of the anguish his mother must be suffering because of his wanderings and, like the Prodigal Son, he returned home.
Some time later the missionary H.H. Lowry met Wang, who was by now married with children. Impressed by his attitude, Lowry invited him to come to Beijing to continue his studies. Wang’s father went too and was given a job as a chapel keeper while his son attended school. Gradually God introduced himself to this strong-willed young man, and Wang was drawn to the love and grace of the Heavenly Father. He believed in Christ, and became an evangelist to the people of Beijing. He also had a strong desire to be a doctor, so he entered medical school and finally graduated after several years of study.
In 1900, when it became clear that the Boxers would attack Beijing, Wang sent his wife and children to the safety of his father’s home while he remained in the capital. The Boxers arrested him almost immediately and took him to the college campus, where he was one of many Christians massacred. Later, a cook in the Boxer camp recounted a conversation he had heard between two of the rebels about Wang’s fate:
“We wanted him to recant and worship idols, and threatened that if he did not we would kill him. It was a pity to kill as fine a scholar as he was and we did not want to do it.”“What did he say? Did he refuse?”
“Yes, he grated his teeth together and said, ‘We are four generations of Christians, my grandfather, my father, myself, and my sons, and shall I be the first to recant? Kill me if you will!’”
“What did you do? Did you kill a man of that kind?”
“Yes, we stuck a spear into him twice and threw his body under the college building.”
When they heard the somber news, Wang’s family went to the campus to look for his remains. They covered the bones and hair of several Christians and gave them a proper burial. Wang Zhonglin’s father and grandfather were also martyred by the Boxers, but his wife and two sons survived.
- China’s Book of Martyrs. Carlisle: Piquant Editions, 2007. Used by permission.